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Death Wish V: The Face of Death
1994 - R - 95 Mins.
Director: Allan A. Goldstein
Producer: Damian Lee
Written By: Allan A. Goldstein
Starring: Charles Bronson, Lesley-Anne Down, Michael Parks, Saul Rubinek
Review by: Jake Cremins

I'm starting to think that a picture of Charles Bronson *not* holding a gun would be a big collector's item.
'Death Wish V' is an intensely weary, stupid and depressing movie that looks like it was made for about thirty cents. It is a colossal waste of time, film stock, theater bookings and several good character actors, and in Charles Bronson it finds a man who seems incredibly tired of playing this role over and over again. It's really sad, watching him have to get angry yet again, as yet another girlfriend is murdered and yet another set of criminals has to be shot so that the movie can finally end.

You could write the plot yourself, and probably better. Bronson is Paul Kersey, who is back in New York under the Witness Protection Program (huh?) and newly engaged to a fashion designer (Lesley-Anne Down). Unfortunately her ex-husband is Tommy O'Shea (Michael Parks), who runs protection rackets and is extorting her and every other business in the Fashion District. (How a man named Tommy O'Shea got to be head of a crime organization composed of Italians is left to our imagination.) She agrees to testify against him, she is killed, and Kersey pulls out his revolver. The end.

The technical details of this movie are painfully inept. We get all of the usual stuff with obvious stuntmen and boom mics reflected in car windows, but during one scene--could I believe my ears?--yes, they actually left in the sound of a lavalier microphone rubbing against the inside of Bronson's shirt. You see, "lavs," as they're called, are little microphones that are usually taped to an actor's chest. Talk shows use them; they're the same kind you see clipped onto people's collars when they're being interviewed. Did you ever see someone on "Geraldo" get animated enough to put their hand on their chest, causing a loud thumping sound when they hit the microphone? Well, that's what happens here. This movie is so cheap that they actually couldn't afford to get Bronson back in to dub over two lines and cover up the thumping sound. Or maybe they just didn't care, I dunno.

Anyway, that, for me, was the highlight of 'Death Wish V: The Face of Death.' (It's not often you see a movie so bad that it leaves a mistake like *that* in.) Oh, there are quite a few moments of particularly repulsive violence; one guy gets his stomach sliced by a buzzsaw, another one has his head pressed in a steam iron, and the finale involves someone being melted in a tub full of acid. But this movie is so incredibly lifeless that even these moments occur with the absolute minimum of necessary energy, as though they were afraid of jolting the audience out of their naps. Rare is the movie, I venture, that introduces such an obviously incongruous tub of acid and can't even make *that* exciting.

The only good thing in this pathetic waste is Parks, who gives a far better performance than the material deserves. He's the only one who comes close from escaping the incredible boredom this movie inspires, and if he can't make it, no one can (he can't). Through a stroke of good luck you can now see Parks in not one, but two roles in Quentin Tarantino's 'Kill Bill' saga, a revenge story that is to this movie as the Rolls Royce is to the Yugo.
Movie Guru Rating
Offensive and completely without value.  Should never have been released.
  0 out of 5 stars

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